Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Well at the World's End > CHAPTER 31 The Beginning of the Road To Utterbol
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
CHAPTER 31 The Beginning of the Road To Utterbol
 Early next morning Ralph arose and called Bull Shockhead to him and said: "So it is, Bull, that thou art my war-taken thrall." Bull nodded his head, but frowned therewithal. Said Ralph: "If I bid thee aught that is not beyond reason thou wilt do it, wilt thou not?" "Yea," said Bull, surlily. "Well," quoth Ralph, "I am going a journey east-away, and I may not have thee with me, therefore I bid thee take this gold and go free with my goodwill." Bull's face lighted up, and the eyes glittered in his face; but he said: "Yea, king's son, but why wilt thou not take me with thee?" Said Ralph: "It is a perilous journey, and thy being with me will cast thee into peril and make mine more. Moreover, I have an errand, as thou wottest, which is all mine own."  
Bull pondered a little and then said: "King's son, I was thinking at first that our errands lay together, and it is so; but belike thou sayest true that there will be less peril to each of us if we sunder at this time. But now I will say this to thee, that henceforth thou shalt be as a brother to me, if thou wilt have it so, and if ever thou comest amongst our people, thou wilt be in no danger of them: nay, they shall do all the good they may to thee."
Then he took him by the hand and kissed him, and he set his hand to his gear and drew forth a little purse of some small beast's skin that was broidered in front with a pair of bull's horns: then he stooped down and plucked a long and tough bent from the grass at his feet (for they were talking in the garden of the hostel) and twisted it swiftly into a strange knot of many plies, and opening the purse laid it therein and said: "King's son, this is the token whereby it shall be known amongst our folk that I have made thee my brother: were the flames roaring about thee, or the swords clashing over thine head, if thou cry out, I am the brother of Bull Shockhead, all those of my kindred who are near will be thy friends and thy helpers. And now I say to thee farewell: but it is not altogether unlike that thou mayst hear of me again in the furthest East." So Ralph departed from him, and Clement went with Ralph to the Gate of Goldburg, and bade him farewell there; and or they parted he said: "Meseems I have with me now some deal of the foreseeing of Katherine my wife, and in my mind it is that we shall yet see thee at Wulstead and Upmeads, and thou no less famous than now thou art. This is my last word to thee." Therewith they parted, and Ralph rode his ways.
He came on his way-leader about a bowshot from the gate and they greeted each other: the said guide was clad no otherwise than yesterday: he had saddle-bags on his horse, which was a strong black roadster: but he was nowise armed, and bore but a satchel with a case of knives done on to it, and on the other side a fiddle in its case. So Ralph smiled on him and said: "Thou hast no weapon, then?" "What need for weapon?" said he; "since we are not of might for battle. This is my weapon," said he, touching his fiddle, "and withal it is my field and mine acre that raiseth flesh-meat and bread for me: yea, and whiles a little drink."
So they rode on together and the man was blithe and merry: and Ralph said to him: "Since we are fellows for a good while, as I suppose, what shall I call thee?" Said he, "Morfinn the Minstrel I hight, to serve thee, fair lord. Or some call me Morfinn the Unmanned. Wilt thou not now ask me concerning that privy word that I had for thy ears?" "Yea," said Ralph reddening, "hath it to do with a woman?" "Naught less," said Morfinn. "For I heard of thee asking many questions thereof in Goldburg, and I said to myself, now may I, who am bound for Utterness, do a good turn to this fair young lord, whose face bewrayeth his heart, and telleth all men that he is kind and bounteous; so that there is no doubt but he will reward me well at once for any help I may give him; and also it may be that he will do me a good turn hereafter in memory of this that I have done him."
"Speak, wilt thou not," said Ralph, "and tell me at once if thou hast seen this woman? Be sure that I shall reward thee." "Nay, nay, fair sir," said Morfinn; "a woman I have seen brought captive to the House of Utterbol. See thou to it if it be she whom thou seekest."
He smiled therewith, but now Ralph deemed him not so debonnaire as he had at first, for there was mocking in the smile; therefore he was wroth, but he refrained him and said: "Sir Minstrel, I wot not why thou hast come with a tale in thy mouth and it will not out of it: lo you, will this open the doors of speech to thee" (and he reached his hand out to him with two pieces of gold lying therein) "or shall this?" and therewith he half drew his sword from his sheath.
Said Morfinn, grinning again: "Nay, I fear not the bare steel in thine hands, Knight; for thou hast not fool written plain in thy face; therefore thou wilt not slay thy way-leader, or even anger him over much. And as to thy gold, the wages shall be paid at the journey's end. I was but seeking about in my mind how best to tell thee my tale so that thou mightest believe my word, which is true. Thus it goes: As I left Utterbol a month ago, I saw a damsel brought in captive there, and she seemed to me so exceeding fair that I looked hard on her, and asked one of the men-at-arms who is my friend concerning the market whereat she was cheapened; and he told me that she had not been bought, but taken out of the hands of the wild men from the further mountains. Is that aught like to your story, lord?" "Yea," said Ralph, knitting his brows in eagerness. "Well," said Morfinn, "but there are more fair women than one in the world, and belike this is not thy friend: so now, as well as I may, I will tell thee what-like she was, and if thou knowest her not, thou mayst give me those two gold pieces and go back again. She was tall rather than short, and slim rather than bigly made. But many women are fashioned so: and doubtless she was worn by travel, since she has at least come from over the mountains: but that is little to tell her by: her hands, and her feet also (for she was a horseback and barefoot) wrought well beyond most women: yet so might it have been with some: yet few, methinks, of women who have worked afield, as I deem her to have done, would have hands and feet so shapely: her face tanned with the sun, but with fair colour shining through it; her hair brown, yet with a fair bright colour shining therein, and very abundant: her cheeks smooth, round and well wrought as any imager could do them: her chin round and cloven: her lips full and red, but firm-set as if she might be both valiant and wroth. Her eyes set wide apart, grey and deep: her whole face sweet of aspect, as though she might be exceeding kind to one that pleased her; yet high and proud of demeanour also, meseemed, as though she were come of great kindred. Is this aught like to thy friend?"
He spake all this slowly and smoothly and that mocking smile came into his face now and again. Ralph grew pale as he spoke and knitted his brows as one in great wrath and grief; and he was slow to answer; but at last he said "Yea," shortly and sh............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved